Gio Gonzalez was representing the D.C. sports scene after tonight’s dominant outing, sporting a Caps throwback t-shirt.
The guy must love the nation’s capital, huh?
After tonight’s outing, Gonzalez has now thrown 14 scoreless frames in his two starts at Nats Park this season, and he earned his first win as a National by holding the Astros to just two hits and two walks on a brisk night.
It was another overpowering outing which saw Gonzalez outmatch Astros hitters, striking out eight, including three in a row to set down the side in the second inning.
“He was hitting my glove the whole night,” catcher Jesus Flores said. “His curveball was untouchable tonight. ... He’s a very competitive pitcher, and he wants to challenge you. Tonight, he was just Gio.”
As Flores mentioned, the curve was excellent for Gonzalez tonight. Six of his eight strikeouts came on the sharp, bending curve, which drew awkward swings on more than a few occasions.
“You can tell with the hitters’ reactions, too, because (his curve) kind of stands them up and then falls off the table,” said center fielder Jayson Werth, who got a good view of Gonzalez from behind the mound. “You know it’s biting when guys are doing that.”
“From the left side, Gio has, for me, the best curveball I have caught in my career,” Flores said. “And I go with (Stephen) Strasburg from the right side.”
Traditionally a pitcher who can struggle with his control and a guy who has been known to walk a decent amount of hitters (4.4 per nine innings for his career), Gonzalez has avoided the free passes lately. He’s walked just two hitters over his last 14 innings, compared to 15 strikeouts in that time.
“I feel like I’m still in the zone,” Gonzalez said. “I got a couple walks, but I’m still in the strike zone. Obviously, I’m not going to be perfect, but again, the whole point of going out there is trying to stay the distance and keep the pitch count down.”
Gonzalez’s pitch count was at just 92 through seven innings, but instead of riding the lefty for one more inning in a 1-0 game, manager Davey Johnson went to his bullpen for the eighth, calling on Tyler Clippard.
“He had (91) pitches, and I’m going to hold him probably around 100 this early in the season,” Johnson said. “A guy pitching that kind of ballgame, I don’t give him an opportunity to lose it. So I didn’t want to start the inning with if anybody got on, I’d have to hook him. And I had Clip, so that was reason enough for me.
“But an outstanding game. Had a great changeup. Good fastball. Outstanding curve. They’re tough on left-handers, and he made it look easy.”